Mr Darcy’s Education on Growth Mindset

Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 1894

The Bennet Family at Home illustrated by Hugh Thomson, 1894 from Wikimedia Commons

When I was looking at the Fixed Mindset/Growth Mindset infograph on the DLMOOC site yesterday a conversation between Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice popped into my head:

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising…(Pride and Prejudice, 1813, chapter 31)

Ms Austen you were centuries ahead of your time!

Starting DLMOOC: Mindsets and Learning Strategies – Some initial thoughts and beliefs

The Deeper Learning MOOC is starting on Jan 20th and even though it is the summer holidays in Australia, the line-up of topics to be covered is too good to miss out on so I’m starting my 2014 PD a little early

In the preview week, there is plenty of reading to do on Mindsets and Learning Habits and Strategies. I’ve had a particular interest in this my whole educational life, especially since having my own children (all grown now but still learning!). We chose to put them into an alternative primary school because we did not want to see the love of learning they had  (and all children have) die before they got to high school. We thought better to nurture it by thinking ‘outside the box’ rather than attempting to revive it during adolescence.

Watch young children’s play before they enter school, Eduardo Briceno’s Four Learning Mindsets (see below) are very evident, so what happens when children go to school? Well, perhaps it’s that mistakes are pointed out but rarely are they pointed out as opportunities to learn (challenges), maybe abilities/ lack of ability are revealed for others to use as forms of ridicule (sport, art, music, etc), what’s it’s never made clear is that abilities are not fixed – most kids’ know’ what they ‘are good at…/they are bad at …” by about 7 or 8 years old.  It ends up being all about perceived performance and not really about learning. Parents demand it; educational institutions make sure it happens. And most kids ‘get it’ and stop trying. Or do they?

I believe there is a growing disconnection between ‘in school’ and ‘out of school’ learning and the culture of learning. Just go to a skate park, or watch a bunch of kids playing Minecraft together; or learning how to parkour or krump. Kids are keen learners and  again, display all four of the Learning Mindsets as they take part in these types of activities:

  • “I can change my intelligence and abilities through effort” (Growth mindset)
  • “I can succeed” (Self- Efficacy)
  • “I belong in this learning” (Sense of belonging)
  • “This work has value and purpose for me” (Relevance)

They’re also applying collaborative techniques and learning-to-learn skills especially via social media (YouTube videos/cheats/tutorials/walkthroughs, community forums). Real deep learning is alive and well — outside of school.

Self-Directed Learning - How to Wire a Car (planning, reading, tutorials, forums, trying, persevering)

Self-Directed Learning – Electrical Wiring of a Car

Carol Dweck’s quote in “The Effort Effect” summed this dilemma up nicely:

The key isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.

I suspect education departments, politicians and the media of creating the Fixed Mindset culture that we are struggling with currently. They have created a pervading atmosphere of a talent competition while discounting and neglecting the whole concept of mastery of subjects, skills and abilities.

(As further proof, in Australia, we are currently witnessing the phasing out of many apprenticeship and competency-based education programs.)

Whew! Nothing like a little rant a bit of deep reflection about current attitudes and beliefs to kick off a MOOC.

I look forward to reading, discussing, listening and learning more about this crucial and timely topic.


Krakovsky, Marina. “The Effort Effect. “Stanford Magazine Mar. – Apr. 2007: n. page. Stanford Alumni. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

Cyber Safety Summit 2012

On June 12th, I attended the National Cyber Safety Summit in Canberra with two students from the school.  They were select members from the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) who took part in online forum discussions to help inform the government on cyber safety initiatives.

The purpose of the Summit was to bring students, parents and teachers together with relevant industries and government sectors to discuss “how to keep young Australians safe online”.

YAG students this year made over 5000 suggestions and comments.  Discussions were based around the following themes:

  • cyberbullying
  • privacy
  • online gambling
  • reputation
  • digital citizenship
  • marketing

The summit was hosted by Project Rockit team members and  formally opened by Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. There were also some special guests:

  • Winners of the first Cyber Defence University Challenge (from U of NSW)
  • Winners of the 2012 Stay Smart Online’s agent/ambassador competition

After all the announcements and speeches, parents and teachers split off from the students and we all attended presentation workshops.

Students attended a session on Managing Your Reputation Online led by Ruby Rose, MTV presenter and spokesperson for HeadSpace. They discussed steps they could take to protect their reputations, learned about the social and legal consequences of acts such as harassment, cyberbullying and sexting from the Federal Police and received a handout that the AFP provide to elite athletes to help them manage their reputations online. Teens also shared some opinions including the inconsistencies in dealing with bullies at school. They felt that some are dealt with less harshly than things like smoking. They also expressed that many of the resources used in schools to teach Cybersafety were not interesting, relevant or age-appropriate.

They then attended a session with ABC’s Good Game hosts, Bajo and Hex. The topic was Digital Etiquette and Gaming. The culture and nature of gaming was discussed including the bullies/trolls online and how its OK to block them. Teens shared that there is pressure to keep up with obligations to the team in online games. They also said that parents should take more of an interest in what’s going on in their kids’ gaming world.

Parents attended a separate session on Gaming with Bajo and Hex. They were surprised to hear that the average age of a gamer was 37 years old! There was much discussion about the language and bullying in games. They were urged to take interest in their children’s gaming, to keep lines of communication open, set limits and discuss online friendships. Above all the room agreed that its important to help kids understand that “its only a game!” and to not invest too much emotion in it.

Parents also attended a presentation by the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation outlining their eSmart Schools program, the framework used to achieve best practice and their eSmart School certification. The program is not free but Victoria Dept of Education funds this program for all schools in the state.

I think the afternoon panel discussion was the highlight for most participants. Some excellent questions/dicussions came out of the session.

Q.  Should teachers and students be friends on Facebook (or other social networks)?

The Facebook rep answered that there were lots of ways for schools to take advantage of social networking sites with out individual teachers friending students. Many are using the site as a resource site. Other panelists thought that this decision was really up to individual schools. Some expressed the opinion that teachers shouldn’t have to be available to students 24/7 and that Facebook should be for their private life.

Q. Should we stop under 13s from going on Facebook?

The Telstra crime investigation representative said that it was important not to demonize technology and social networking sites. The Facebook rep pointed out that they now have a new reporting dashboard and improved information on the status of reports. She also pointed out that it was important for people to include their true age as minors have added privacy/security on their accounts by default.

Q. Should kids be using technology as an emotional outlet?

Teens expressed their desire to keep journals and talk to friends about their problems online, often seeking support from friends on Facebook. Some though this was a reliable and instantaneous way to talk to someone. Ruby Rose said it was better to get in contact with a counsellor online from one of the support sites than to spill emotions onto a social network site. You can never get what you say back. Others pointed out that texting and messaging wasn’t a good way to communicate feelings, too often people misunderstand the message.

Q .What is the duty of care for teachers in cyberbullying incidents that happen outside of the school?

The Telstra rep said that cybersafety is everyone’s responsibility. Ruby Rose agreed and said if you know someone’s having trouble take personal responsibility and reach out! The representative for the DEECD stated that the Number 1 responsibility of the school is to provide cybersafety education.

Perhaps the show stopper of the day though, came from one of my own students. Her question/comment was that not enough was being done to educate young Australians about the mental health consequences of cyberbullying. She wanted to know why we don’t teach people that all the negative online behaviour (and bullying in general) leads to depression, self harm and suicide. She felt the statistics and incidents should not be taboo topics. The entire room was silent as she spoke about it.

I think all of us left the summit with much to reflect on and some excellent strategies and directions to take. I feel privileged to have been a part of the discussion and will be discussing several ideas with my Principal for new initiatives.

My PD Reading Challenge

Infograph courtesy: Social Media Max on Flickr cc

One of my NY resolutions was to take time to read the PD books I’ve purchased over the past couple of years. I started on my Professional Reading Challenge during the summer holidays. I have six books lined up.

Guy Kawasaki’s book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions” is essentially a business motivational book but even from the blurb I could see the practical applications for the school library service. (The above link will take you to a video speech he made about “Enchantment”).
The inside jacket blurb starts:

Enchantment, as defined by bestselling business guru, Guy Kawasaki, is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal.

Now I’m not worried about people feeling hostile towards our school library, I’m concerned with something much more insidious – apathy and ignorance to what we do and how we can help the school to become a much better learning community. I’m passionate about what I do; I work hard to build trust and offer a stellar service but I really want to go the next step towards empowering others and so I’m looking for some guidance. I hope there is much to reflect on and put into practice here.
I’m also looking for practices to take my leadership skills to the next level. This book promises to help one bring about change in other people and I am particularly interested in effecting change when it comes to assisting teachers to use ICT and feel comfortable in changing the way they teach.

New Year, New Journey

Flickr CC photo by mira66

Flickr CC photo by mira66

My formal education is finished (convocation is in March) and I will be starting two new jobs next week, but as an avid life-long learner this TL is still ‘under construction’. I expect 2011 to bring on many opportunities to grow and experience and in order to get the maximum benefit from those experiences I have resolved to set professional learning goals for myself. There are of course many web tools that will help you to set goals and stay on track. The one that I’ve used for personal goals and will now use for professional ones as well is 43 Things. In it you can:

  • set yearly resolutions
  • set long-term goals
  • set up email reminders to yourself to motivate progress
  • write entries and include pictures about your goals (and post to blog, facebook, twitter)
  • receive comments
  • follow others (friends or people with common goals)
  • send motivational ‘cheers’ to people as they mark goals or make progress

Both fun and motivating! You can look me up, I’ve opened up a new account for my professional goals as catinthelibrary. All the best for 2011 and for obtaining your professional goals.